Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Northern Mockingbirds at Borrego Springs

After Phainopeplas, Northern Mockingbirds are the second-most obvious birds at the Borrego Springs waste treatment ponds in winter. They are constantly singing and chasing through the mesquite there. And even if there are less than 10 total birds in the immediate area, they make themselves known by their loud calls, songs, antics, and penchant for perching up high and exposed.

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird at dawn. Waste treatment ponds, Borrego Springs, California. October 29, 106. Greg Gillson.
Northern Mockingbird

Mockingbirds are pretty much found throughout San Diego County except the unbroken chaparral of the foothills and above 4000 feet in the higher mountains. Thus, the range in the county is cut in two by the north-south running mountains.

West of the mountains these are common resident birds in urban and agricultural areas throughout the coastal lowlands.

East of the mountains they breed widely throughout sage, scrub, and cactus habitats, as well as oases and towns. Interestingly, they breed noticeably less widely in the desert in drier years, retreating into desert towns then (Unitt, 2004). And they are less widespread in winter--concentrating near settlements and oases.

Another thing that is interesting about Mockingbirds is that they have a prolonged breeding season. They may breed twice, or sometimes thrice, in a single breeding season. Nests with eggs have been noted in California from late February to the beginning of September.